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Cold snap next week ‘puts Britain at the mercy of Russian gas giants’ as reserves in Europe reach record lows

A cold snap next week could leave the country at the mercy of Russian gas suppliers, experts have warned.

Plunging temperatures on Sunday and Monday are likely to send demand for gas soaring across the UK and Europe to heat and light homes.

A report from the analysts S&P Platts warns that relying on Russia may be the only option for European nations if they suddenly need more as other suppliers are already running at or near capacity.

Gas reserves across the continent are at record lows after cold spells and the closure of British storage facilities.

But the report said: ‘Gas demand is set to rise again from the end of the week across north-western Europe, bringing potential large-scale gas withdrawals back into play and prompting a likely increase in nominations for Russian gas imports.

‘Given the surge in demand, Russian gas supplies are considered the only swing source of gas under current conditions. Domestic production and other import sources are effectively maxed out.’

Campaigners fear the growing reliance on imports leaves the UK vulnerable at a time of heightened political tension with Russia in the wake of the row over the poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury.

Official figures suggest only a small proportion of Britain’s gas comes from Russia directly. But many major pipelines across Europe start in Russia. This allows state-backed giants such as Gazprom effective control of European gas supplies.